A new study led by researchers at Harvard Medical School shows that had reparations for slavery been awarded to African Americans prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the racial disparity in infections, hospitalizations, and death rates due to the virus would have been significantly reduced or eliminated.
Researchers examined the effect of reparation payments on the Black-White wealth gap in the state of Louisiana. To assess the effect of reparation payments on the trajectory of the pandemic, the researchers based their calculations on a model that would pay $250,000 per person to descendants of enslaved individuals. Such a reduction in the Black-White wealth gap would have had a significant effect on disease transmission in the Black community, according to the authors.
The researchers used next-generation matrices to gauge how overcrowding, segregation, and the wealth gap between Blacks and Whites in Louisiana could have driven higher infection rates and how monetary reparations would affect viral transmission. Their analysis suggests that if reparations had been made before the COVID-19 pandemic, the transmission of the virus in the state’s overall population could have been reduced by anywhere from 31 percent to 68 percent.
The full study, “Reparations for American Descendants of Persons Enslaved in the U.S. and Their Potential Impact on SARS-CoV-2 Transmission,” was published on the website of the journal Social Science & Medicine. It may be accessed here.